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Voters in marginal Conservative seats back asylum seekers' right to work, refugee charities find

REFUGEE charities have found that voters in marginal Conservative seats — including ex-Red Wall constituencies — back the right to work for people seeking asylum. 

Research for the Lift the Ban coalition found an overwhelming majority of those living in the 35 most marginal Conservative seats that swung from Labour in last year’s election support ending the prohibition on asylum seekers supporting themselves after arriving in Britain. 

Pollsters ICM found that 73 per cent thought people seeking asylum should be allowed to work, with 77 per cent believing this would help with community integration. 

A further 83 per cent said that if they were in the shoes of someone seeking asylum, they would rather work than live on government support.

At present, asylum seekers are effectively banned from getting a job while waiting for a decision on their claim, left to live on a meagre allowance of just £5.66 a day, often causing destitution and declining mental health.

The policy has meant that trained doctors, care workers and other frontline staff are unable to work. 

Asylum Matters director Paul Hook said: “It makes no sense to ban people from using their skills and experience in the fight against Covid and in the economic recovery.

“The message from the voters who gave the government its majority is crystal clear: ministers must lift the ban now and give people seeking asylum the right to work, during the pandemic and beyond.”

The polling was published ahead of a Westminster debate on the right to work for those seeking asylum on Wednesday, where Home Office minister Chris Philp was forced to defend government policy. 

A petition with more than 180,000 signatures, which called for people seeking asylum to be given the right to work after six months of waiting for a decision on their claim, was handed to the Home Office in September. 

Refugee Action head of campaigns Mariam Kemple Hardy said: “Allowing people seeking asylum to work would be a critical and common-sense step in creating the fair system that the Home Secretary has repeatedly said she wants.

“It would make a huge difference to the lives and wellbeing of people stuck in the system, who would be able to use their skills to help our communities tackle Covid and build back better from the pandemic.”

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